I’ve spent the past month writing several commentaries on the perception of race in America. I didn’t set out to do it, circumstances pushed me to do it. However, the problem with discussing race in this Country is that there will never be an honest discussion. One side always seems to perceive the other side as imagining their experiences. As if, what they are experiencing are made up. All one needs to do is think positive thoughts. Erase the negativity out of your head and discrimination will somehow go away. Then there is Riley Cooper.
Many youth in the African-American community who live in poverty see only two ways to success; sports or music. If they feel that they are born with the talent they work real hard to achieve that goal. They put in years and years of practice for a chance to obtain a goal in which they have a .009% chance of achieving. It’s no secret that professional sports is dominated by African-Americans. The NFL and the NBA have a predominately black roster, while the MLB is mixed. The dream to make it into the NFL isn’t just an exclusive thing in the African-American community. There are millions of young white kids that want to make it into the NFL, and there are hundreds of scouts passing them up because they are not black. Many whites are told that the only way to make it in the NFL is to be a quarterback. The position of the quarterback is the only position in the NFL that remains primarily white. As if it wasn’t hard enough to make it in the NFL it is exceptionally harder for a white person to make it.
We live in a nation with a steep tradition embedded in sports. Americans love football, and not that crap that involves kicking around some white ball–not allowed to use your hands. We love the manly kind of football where men smash other men dressed in suits of underarmour, and women like how the men’s asses look like in their spandex pants.
Riley Cooper is a wide receiver. The problem he has is that there are not a lot of successful modern-day receivers that are white. Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall, Julio Jones, Andre Johnson, Vincent Jackson, Percy Harvin, Demaryius Thomas, Roddy White are the top 10 ranked receivers for the 2013 season. They are all black or Hispanic, and that is a problem for Riley Cooper.
Way back when, I used to unload equipment off a chartered American Airlines 757 for the Miami Dolphins football team. I used to watch the players step off and get on the many chartered buses provided for them by the team. In addition for working for the Miami Dolphins I have also witnessed every other NFL team’s players stepping off the plane to the awaiting buses. In every single team, one thing was clear; blacks sat with blacks and whites sat with whites. The problem that whites had is that they often had to sit with the coaches, rather then the other players in their positions. In addition to my work with NFL charters I have also made friends with many players on The New England Patriots. I used to go to strip clubs with Willie McGinest, Roman Phifer, Keith Traylor, Mike Cloud and I even hung out with Drew Bledsoe the day he signed his multi-million dollar contract with the Patriots. Although, when I hung out with Drew Bledsoe it was with my white friends. Every time I hung out with the linebackers they made it a point not to hang out with whites, and they really knew how to party.
So, what does this have to do with Riley Cooper? When Riley Cooper decided to use the “N” word in the Kenny Chasney concert–directed at a black bouncer who wouldn’t let him back in the concert–it was out of frustration at what he is currently going through. The sad truth is that what Riley Cooper is experiencing is what millions of blacks are experiencing. The “N” word incident blew to the surface from years and years of him being told that he is not good enough. He probably thinks that he has proved himself. He feels that he is ignored, and he feels that he is not given an opportunity.
Now, I’m not condoning what Riley Cooper did, but I can understand what he did. Being oppressed and not having your talents recognized is a very, very sad thing. And that is the sad truth about Riley Cooper.